I don’t remember his name. It probably isn’t important that I do, so I’ll just tell the story about the man who drove the old, brown station wagon to the flea market up behind the Kingsport Speedway. He was short, about 5 foot 1 or 2. He had a home-made loud speaker, with large trumpet-shaped speakers mounted to the top of his car. He would park among the vendors, pay his fee, and stand up on the opened tail gate to take his microphone and begin the rhythmic cadence of sentences and phrases and uh, “guh-LOR-ee-uh!” Only a few stopped to listen, several spent breath expressing their dissatisfaction with his presentation, and wishing he would move on.
I was mesmerized.
His ragged Bible, flopping with passion as he sweated out a gospel sermon, he would pace back and forth on that tail gate, preaching with intention and smiling between breaths. His road-weary car was covered in professionally-painted signs that rang out God’s declaration that we should all “Repent! The end is coming!” As I stood and watched from my ten-year old vantage, walking from vendor to vendor, peeping around from behind Pappaw, I wondered when he would bring it to an end. He looked to be laboring hard, breathing with intense struggle, making so little difference as the crowd just continued walking, sputtering, just one or or two stopping to nod and give a “Preach it! Brother!”
Week after week the mission continued, every Saturday always on the edge of the large gravel parking lot, near the end of the line of vendors. Flea Market Preacher, prophet of the well-traveled station wagon. May he rest in peace.